All Apologies

Craig and John take a look at Toph Eggers’s apology, which segues to a discussion of apologies in general and laugh tracks.

The pressure of PG-13

To some degree it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you make most of your blockbusters PG-13, most blockbusters will be PG-13.

Breaking down Big Fish

A reader forwarded a link to this structural analysis of Big Fish, which attempts to break down my screenplay down into five plot points

Copyright Math

Rob Reid’s “Copyright Math” presentation for TED is a great reminder of how misleading numbers can undermine an argument.

MacGruber, McGarnagle, McBain

Craig and John tackle five listener questions on topics ranging from greedy managers and lazy agents to throwing in the towel.

In defense of shiny discs

Tasha Robinson offers a strong defense of DVDs and Blu-rays.

Let’s run a studio!

Celebrating Leap Day, John and Craig play the game of “What If?” Specifically, what if we each were handed the reins of a major Hollywood studio?

Getting more women writing TV

Jane Espenson wants more women TV writers, but not for “a female point of view.”

Anatomy of a script

Robin Schiff and Winnie Holzman’s great discussion series “Anatomy of a Script” is starting up again in March, and highly recommended for film and TV writers wanting to learn more about the craft.

What does a reality producer do?

Matthew Watts, a producer on both The First 48 and Swamp People, discusses three kinds of producers in reality television.

Etiquette for screenwriters

This week, Craig and John get all Miss Manners to talk about best practices, bad behavior and throwing writers under the bus.

Optioning a novel, and the golden age of television

For their 25th podcast, John and Craig tackle listener questions. How does a screenwriter option a novel he wants to adapt? When can a writer say he “wrote” a movie — particularly if there are other credited writers? Finally, should an aspiring writer focus on television or features?

The downside of TV’s golden age

Ryan McGee argues that the success of HBO’s drama series has come at the cost of individual episodes.

All the easy answers

Sometimes I worry that my site has gotten too inside-baseball with its discussions of esoteric screenwriting terms, software tools and film industry economics. Is this stuff even accessible to a newbie? A quick visit to the mailbag is reassuring. They don’t seem intimidated.

Hollywood by the numbers

Give Horace Deidu a bunch of Hollywood data and he’ll make some great charts that test your hunches.

The Brotherhood of Screenwriters

John and Craig reach into the listener mailbag and come up with questions about laying out lyrics, foreign dialogue, overall deals and title trademarks.

In defense of Liz Lemon

Linda Holmes worries that 30 Rock has infantilized Liz Lemon. I disagree.

How to write Groundhog Day

I’ve only just started reading Danny Rubin’s How to Write Groundhog Day, but it’s promising enough that I think many screenwriters will want to take a look at it this weekend.

Shine on, you Kubrick theorists

When I criticized Rob Ager’s analysis of spatial impossibilities in The Shining, I didn’t realize the extent of wild theories about Kubrick’s film.

Casting and positive outcomes

Craig and John discuss the screenwriter’s role in casting, then segue to the New York Times profile of producer/executive Lindsay Doran’s approach to story.

How long is Rope?

All movies exist in unreal time, not because of cuts and gimmickry, but because the experience of watching a movie involves surrendering to that film’s reality. We go into dream mode, especially when watching something on a giant screen in a dark theater.

Standardization and differentiation, or why UltraViolet is probably doomed

Standardization is good. Differentiation is good. But they’re competing forces. You can only differentiate your product by moving away from a standard.

What it’s like when your show gets cancelled

Lauren Bagby offers an office PA’s perspective how it feels when your show gets cancelled.

Unprecedented, just like last year

Over at Tom the Dancing Bug, Ruben Bolling looks at how journalists have a faulty memory when it comes to past award seasons.

First-sale doctrine

Craig and I talk a bit about the effects of first-sale doctrine in this week’s podcast, but we don’t define it. So let’s do that here.